Church in Venezuela demands amnesty for police officers accused of involvement in 2002 massacre


The president of the Venezuelan Plenary Council, Archbishop Ovidio Perez Morales, has renewed calls on President Hugo Chavez to grant amnesty to a group of police officers accused of participating in the massacre of April 11, 2002, in which 19 people died during an opposition protest.

“The Bishops’ position continues to be that of calling for a widening of this measure of grace” to the officers accused of involvement in the tragedy, the archbishop said.

Last December President Hugo Chavez signed a law granting amnesty to those involved in the coup of April 2002 and the oil strike of December 2002-January 2003.  However, the decree did not apply to persons accused of “crimes against humanity” and those who did not appear in court for their scheduled hearings.

Officers Forero, Simonovis, Vivas and eight other police officers in Caracas are accused of firing at a group of protestors on April 11, 2002.  Hours after the massacre the coup that removed Chavez from power for 48 hours took place.

The Venezuelan bishops called for greater amnesty last week, but President Chavez responded by launching a new wave of insults against the bishops and the Apostolic Nuncio.

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